For most families, the thought of road-tripping on vacation is met with a groan. Hours on the highway, frequent bathroom breaks and annoying little brothers would make anyone beg “are we there yet?” But for the Webb family and their yearlong road trip across America, it’s not about the destination — it’s about the journey.
Matt Webb, a 1998 alum, and his wife Eva were taking a marriage counseling class when the instructor asked them about one dream they had for their family. Matt blurted out an idea he had had for some time: to take his family on a yearlong road trip to all 50 states in the U.S.
“Eva was like, ‘Uh, pardon?’” Matt said with a laugh. “We hadn’t really discussed it before so it took her by surprise.”
But she understood why this was Matt’s dream for their family. The Webbs were both involved in intercultural and international experiences from a young age. Both Matt and Eva’s parents are doctors and nurses, and their families worked in medical missions in Haiti and Mexico. The Webbs also met in Haiti during college while doing mission work.
“Those years were incredibly transformative for Eva and me,” Matt said. “We were connected with those communities and serving them really shaped the people we became. I really wanted to give our kids the opportunity to experience something impactful like that.”
Shortly after the class, Eva approached Matt about making their dream a reality. Matt, who has a doctorate in theology and film, thought that making a documentary about their experiences would be impactful for their children. After praying together, Matt quit his job at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Eva began teaching English as a Second Language part-time. They even rented out the master bedroom of their Los Angeles home to an international college student.
For the Webbs, this was the preparation for the adventure of a lifetime.
The next two years were spent building the project.
The Webbs decided they would spend a year on the road in a Bluebird bus-turned-RV, road-schooling their family and creating a documentary about American kids who are working to change the world.
Their own children, Jack, Solveig and Evie, will be conducting and filming the interviews while Matt and Eva develop the experience. A few local psychologists also will be involved in the project, analyzing what shapes children into young change-makers, in the hope that generosity and passion may be fostered in future generations.
“There are literally hundreds of young people across the United States that are changing and giving back to their communities,” Matt said. “We are going to visit kids who are building wells in Africa, collecting food for the hungry, organizing fundraisers for other kids that need heart transplants, leading anti-bullying initiatives or trying to save the environment. They are all remarkable and range from young children to college students that started their projects when they were kids. It’s important that our kids see that they are not too young to make that kind of impact.”
The Webbs also will be speaking at a number of churches along the way, sharing their story and the spiritual growth they experience as a family.
“The project is not specifically about our spiritual journey, but it will definitely be a spiritually formative process,” Matt said. “But Christ is in us, and we hope to reflect love and grace to the communities we visit, to share in their excitement, give them help and, ultimately, hope.”
The Webb family kicks off their road trip this summer. To donate to their trip, follow them on the road or schedule a speaking event, visit oneyearroadtrip.com